As part of the process of becoming a volunteer for the National Sexual Assault Hotline hosted by RAINN (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), I have to complete some training. A couple of days ago I wrapped up the online portion of the training.
24 hours of training that was enlightening, educational, powerful and more than just a little disturbing.
Here are some of the topics that were covered:
- Surviving rape
- Human trafficking
- Handling suicidal callers
- Date rape
- Child sexual abuse
- Sexual exploitation by helping professionals
- Elder abuse
- Sexual abuse of the disabled
That there needs to be training for things like this, or that there needs to be a national survivor hotline, is troublesome. I suppose it can be chalked up to “human nature,” but damn… rape, incest, human trafficking, sexual abuse of children… aren’t we better than this?
There was a question I asked myself more than once as I was reading chat transcripts, absorbing statistics, exploring resources, and learning techniques for helping people who’ve literally just swallowed a handful of sleeping pills:
“I wonder how many people start this volunteer process and wind up closing the laptop and saying, ‘Forget it, I just can’t deal with this.'”
I suspect some do, and they shouldn’t be faulted for that, at all. These are disturbing, troubling topics–things that go way deep into the evil side of humanity. Not everyone can, or should, deal with this. While it’s an unfortunate necessity, thankfully there is an organization out there that will build the infrastructure and manage and train the volunteers so the victims of abuse can get the help they need.
This post is not being written to say, “look at me, see what I’m doing. Aren’t I special?” I’m not. I volunteered to staff this hotline for two main reasons:
1) Survivors need help. A safe place to get some assistance, information, resources, or just have someone to talk to.
2) These are serious and troubling issues, it seems to be getting worse, and it needs to be addressed. Awareness seems key, and I think I can help raise awareness. Posts like this can help. Obviously once I start responding on the online hotline I can’t share anything about any conversations. But I can sure keep raising the issue, sharing the extent, and increasing awareness.
Next up is a couple of days in D.C. for in-person training, then a debrief session, then some work under the watchful eye of a trained professional and then I’ll be cut loose to take hotline calls.
It’s going to be an interesting ride. I’ll share what I can, and keep pushing on the awareness–quite possibly to the point of annoyance.
Want to help? RAINN can always use donations, and the more people talking about sexual abuse the better. If you’re interested in volunteering for the hotline, more info is here. RAINN can also hook you up with local shelters and rape crisis centers that are always starved for volunteers. Then there is the political action side where help is needed reaching out to local, state and federal legislatures.
If you are a sexual assault / abuse survivor, please reach out to RAINN at Online.RAINN.org or call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). All contact is anonymous and private.